Venus and Serena. Peyton and Eli. Liam and Noel. Everybody loves a sibling rivalry, especially when they go toe-to-toe.
The Canadian Premier now has one of its own, ever since the younger of the Zebie brothers, Bruno, swapped his FC Edmonton blue for Cavalry FC red this off-season. After playing with his brother, Allan, for the Eddies in the CPL’s inaugural season, Bruno decided to take his talents south to Calgary for year two.
“In all honesty, my first option right out of PDL was Cavalry,” Bruno revealed to CanPL.ca. “I was really excited about it, it was a good offer and a good prospect for me, but I really wanted to go back to Edmonton and play with my brother, because that was on my bucket list.
“This year I decided to move away from that team and be in an environment where I feel it’s better for me, in terms of the competitive mindset and playing in a position where I’m more familiar,” he added.
Indeed, both Zebie brothers played most of the 2019 season out of their natural central midfield position, with the two often lining up together on the left side for Edmonton (Allan at fullback and Bruno at wing). Both players indicated that they’d like to play centrally this year.
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“I didn’t want to be stuck where people would see me as a left winger, thinking that’s my best position and being somewhat mediocre there,” Bruno admitted.
It seems, that for the brothers to play in their best spots, the split was necessary.
“I think we didn’t take it in while we were doing it,” Allan said of playing with his brother in 2019. “We were kind of caught in the moment, just trying to do our best. But it was great.”
Of course, during the bizarre world of the COVID-19 pandemic, the brothers haven’t quite been separated the past few months. Indeed, Cavs player Bruno was sequestered in Edmonton with his brother and FCE defender Jeannot Esua for over a month.
The now-rivals tried to keep the espionage to a minimum, though.
“It’s funny, but the house is pretty big,” Bruno quipped. “We always make sure that whenever we do have Zoom calls, we can stay out of each other’s way. Sometimes we have our Zoom calls on speaker, so we can eavesdrop a little bit, hear what the other coaches are saying.”
This is, perhaps, just one small indicator of how having a Zebie on each side of Al Classico might give the rivalry a bit of a spark moving forward.
“I don’t like how the rivalry went down last year. (Edmonton) didn’t win a game, so I don’t think that’s much of a rivalry,” Allan said.
His brother agreed, pointing out that he thinks the Eddies have improved from last season. Plus, Bruno is looking forward to playing the villain in his return to Edmonton.
“I felt like the fans were way too nice to each other,” he said. “I want to create some controversy, you know? I feel like when a lot of players go to a different team, and play against their ex-team, they don’t celebrate or anything like that. For me, it wouldn’t be like that. I would celebrate.”
He doubled down: “I want to be in an atmosphere where when I come back, the fans are not saying, ‘Oh, hi Bruno, we miss you,’ and all that. It’s more like, ‘We hate this player,’ and they’re booing me, and things like that. I want it to be a proper rivalry.”
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The elder brother, Allan, countered that he wants to establish himself as the better Zebie in 2020.
“I kind of want to show people I’m the older brother and have an edge over him, so I’m looking forward to that,” he said. “And obviously winning at least one game against Cavalry.”
Who is the better Zebie brother, though? It’s hard to tell right now; Allan played two more games for FCE last year, although Bruno scored a goal. Both players were instrumental in the Eddies’ wide defence, and they were able to frustrate a lot of talented players on that wing.
How about when they were growing up, though?
“It was weird, growing up I would say Bruno was always the more talented player,” Allan admitted.
His brother agreed: “I think he’s right for sure. What made up for it is that Allan is an exceptionally hard worker… I was always more talented, but he would always do a bit more of the grind, where he would go by himself, do some workouts, or really work on what he wasn’t as comfortable with soccer-wise.
“For me, it came to a point where I saw the way that he worked, and I wanted to make sure that I would work as hard as him or even better,” Bruno continued. “So now, if you asked anyone about the both of us, the first thing they’ll say is we have an amazing work rate.”
Hopefully, once the CPL season begins, both brothers will have ample opportunity to make their case in the next Al Classico.